Captain Upton commanding, accompanied by Captain R. T. Dunham, of my staff.
On May 5, our headquarters at Opelousas were broken up, and the troops moved for Alexandria, a distance of from 90 to 100 miles, making this march in three days and four hours. Moving rapidly to the rear of Fort De Russy, a strong work on Red River, we compelled the immediate evacuation of that post by the enemy, and enabled the fleet of gunboats, under Admiral Porter, to pass up to Alexandria without firing a gun. The army reached Alexandria May 9, in the evening, the navy having reached there the morning of the same day. The enemy continued his retreat in the direction of Shreveport.
In order to completely disperse the forces of the enemy, a force under Generals Weitzel and Dwight pursued him nearly to Grand Ecore, so thoroughly dispersing from that we was unable to reorganize a respectable force until July, more than five weeks after we had completed the investment of Port Hudson.
During these operations on the Teche we captured over 2,000 prisoners and twenty-two guns; destroyed three gunboats and eight steamers; captured large quantities of small-arms, ammunition, mails, and other public property, and the steamers Elle and Cornie, which were of great service to us in the campaign.
A letter from General Taylor, commanding at Fort Bisland, was captured with an officer of the Queen of the West, which informed us that the enemy had contemplated an attack upon our forces at Brashear City, April 12, the day before the assault was made by us upon Fort City, April 12, the day before the assault was made by us upon Fort Bisland, and a subsequent dispatch from Governor Moore to General Taylor was intercepted by General Dwight, in which Taylor was directed, in case he was pursued beyond Alexandria, to fall back into Texas with such of his force as he could keep together. The purpose of the enemy in retreating up the Teche was to draw off toward Texas, on our left flank, for the purpose of cutting off our supplies by the Teche. But the capture of Butte-a-la-Rose enabled us to open a new lie of communication through the Atchafalaya and Courtableau direct to Washington and Barre's Landing, within 6 miles of Opelousas; and upon reaching Alexandria we were enabled to establish a third line of communication by the Atchafalaya and Red Rivers. These were interior waters, wholly inaccessible to the enemy, and made perfectly safe lines of communication during our occupation of that country.
While at Brashear City, I had received a dispatch from Admiral Farragut, by Mr. Gabaudan, his secretary, informing me that General Grant would send 20,000 men by may 1 through the Tensas, Black, and Red Rivers for the purpose of uniting with us in the reduction of Port Hudson. It was felt that his re-enforcement was necessary, and would secure the speedy reduction of that position.
On reaching Alexandria, I received two dispatches from General Grant, one dated April 23, stating that he could spare us a re-enforcement of 20,000 men, if we could supply them, and the other, dated May 5, proposing to send one army corps to Bayou Sara by May 25, and asking that I should then send all the troops I could spare to Vicksburg after the reduction of Port Hudson.
To both of these plans I consented, and answered that we could supply them from New Orleans, and that this force would insure the capture of Port Hudson; but I was afterward informed by a dispatch, dated Auburn, May 10, which I received May 12, that he had crossed the Mississippi, landing his forces at Grand Gulf, and was then in close pursuit of the enemy, under such circumstances that he could not retrace